If you’re a Mom, you know what it means to nurture other people. And if you’re most moms, you find it a little harder to nurture yourself. Lots of us limp through life without the kind of energy and emotional stability that we need to thrive. Most of us make do with far less, actually. But when it comes time to rest and collect ourselves, we’re made to feel guilty about taking the time to recuperate. Whether it’s the media that gets directed at new moms or self-righteous so-and-so at spin class, there are plenty of people who seem to think that a true mother is indefatigable, never taking time for herself. Sometimes nobody has to make us feel guilt directly; we just heap it on ourselves at the slightest provocation.
It isn’t easy to kick this kind of guilt. But it’s necessary if you are to revive during times of rest. One of the best ways to develop rest as a skill is to try to imagine yourself as if you were someone else. If you observe yourself, and notice that you’re tired and spread very thin, what advice would you offer? You’d probably say that rest is necessary, and should therefore be valued. You’d say that no one on earth can go all the time, and that people who spend their energy endlessly eventually burn out, unable to maintain the energy they need to be effective and loving. You’d probably say that it doesn’t matter what other people think – you need to do what’s necessary to be healthy, whatever that is. If it’s so easy to offer this kind of advice to other people, why can’t we tell these things to ourselves?
There are many answers, but one of them may be our hesitation to take on leadership. If you have to develop rest as a discipline, you’re stepping into a role of leadership for your own person. Leaders are exposed, vulnerable. They don’t always know the right thing to do, and when they make mistakes, the responsibility falls on their heads. We fear looking foolish or frivolous, overly concerned with ourselves. Rather than thinking deeply about what we need the most, and taking responsibility for those fundamental needs, we just keep heaping on the responsibilities to avoid the possibility of messing up.
This plan will only result in burnout. Whoever you are, and whether you like it or not, you’ve got to find a way to decompress on the regular. Whether it’s enjoying ACID cigars on the patio after a tough day, or making time to hang out with friends who stimulate your mind in healthy ways, you must make time to do these things. These are the sorts of experiences which revive our energies in a way that simple sleep and relaxation cannot. Much of energy and happiness is about motion and momentum. It’s about staying interested in life, and feeling that your personal journey of development is not over, that it’s not completely bound up in the destinies of other people, even if those are people you love very much. Take time to rest well, and you’ll do better at everything else on your plate.